Director Ron Howards Addresses The Gay Joke Controversy in “The Dilemma”

The recent uproar surrounding Ron Howard’s upcoming comedy “The Dilemma,” in which Ronny Valentine (played by Vince Vaughn) commented  that an electric car is “gay,” resulted in the joke being excised from the trailer. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was critical of the original comment.

However, the joke is not going to be cut from the film, according to Patrick Goldstein in the L.A. Times “Big Picture” blog. Howard, who had the say in the final cut, made the decision.

The director recently answered some questions by Goldstein about the film about why Universal’s gay executives didn’t raise the issue about the trailer before it was released, or why some of the gay actors in the film didn’t object to the joke. Goldstein concluded his questioning by asking why this particular joke has caused a sensation when the use of the word “gay” has been a part of comedy for a while now.

Howard responded: “So why was the joke in the movie? Our lead character of Ronny Valentine has a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with the line of what's okay to say. He tries to do what's right but sometimes falls short. Who can't relate to that? I am drawn to films that have a variety of characters with different points of view who clash, conflict and learn to live with each other.”

He continued: “Did you think it wasn't offensive? I don't strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate. Comedy or drama, I'm always trying to make choices that stir the audience in all kinds of ways. This Ronny Valentine character can be offensive and inappropriate at times and those traits are fundamental to his personality and the way our story works.”

Howard said that the line was in the script and not ad-libbed by Vaughn. He argued that if artists are pressured into making artistic changes, it will “endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought.”

He concluded in his answers to Goldstein’s questions that he himself owns an electric car. “Guess what that makes me in the eyes of our lead character? But then again, I don't agree with everything Ronny Valentine says and does in this comedy any more than Vince Vaughn, the screenwriter or any member of the audience should for that matter.”

Selected Reading: The L.A. Times

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